Brian MacArthur’s credits as an author include three Penguin anthologies and a tribute to Princess Diana. He embarked on the emotive and complex subject of prisoners of war of the Japanese in 2002 and had completed his text with the help of three research assistants by the beginning of May 2004.
MacArthur’s aim is ‘to speak in the voices of the Fepows [sic] themselves’ and his source material includes more than 150 unpublished diaries. The quotations are linked by MacArthur’s commentaries on Changi military camp, the Thailand-Burma Railway, the ‘Hellships’, the prisoners in Japan, Haruku and Sandakan, and subjects such as food, religion, medicine, black markeeters and clandestine radios. The behaviour of the officer class in captivity is considered in detail in a chapter headed ‘Officers and Gentlemen’.